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© 2020 by The Curious Uptowner

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Handcrafted chocolates are coming to an increasingly busy two-block stretch by Striver's Row

Up until now, you could only find Harlem Chocolate Factory's handcrafted chocolate bars and truffles at various pop-ups and events like Harlem Eat Up. But that's all about to change–and soon. Image via Harlem Chocolate Factory Harlem Chocolate Factory's first shop is two weeks away from opening its doors, according a worker readying the storefront at 2363 Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard. That means by Valentine's Day we should all be able to indulge in chocolatier Jessica Spaulding's Harlem-inspired confections. Offerings include Smoked Sea Salt Toffee Bark, Champagne on Striver's Row chocolate bars, and truffles in flavors like Banana Pudding, Sweet Potato Pie and Red Velvet. The store joins

Dominican chicken noodle soup taste-off

Sniff! So you're curled up on the couch with a cold. A bowl of warm chicken soup would do you good, but you're not a fan of the canned stuff and too tired to make your own. Takeout to the rescue! At least that's my solution. Rare is the classic New York diner in my part of Harlem, but luckily there are plenty of Dominican restaurants doing brisk business up and down Broadway. The two closest to me offer hearty, homemade chicken noodle soup rich with meat. Both have the power to instantly revive. Since I typically go to either restaurant at random, in the interest of research I thought I'd simultaneously order from both and pay a little more attention to who made what. Here is what I found. (

8 Harlem spots that capture the 1896 New York of The Alienist

Fans of The Alienist, the crime novel set in 1896 New York, are finally getting the screen adaptation they've been waiting for since the book came out more than two decades ago: the 10-part series premiered on TNT last Monday. Although critics have given the first few episodes mixed reviews, much of the fun for the rest of us will be seeing how the show's designers bring to life a quainter, recently-electrified New York. (Most of the action in the book takes place in Greenwich Village and Gramercy Park.) It turns out the production team had to go all the way to Budapest to recreate the city's 1896 vibe. According to an interview in New York magazine with production designer Mara LePere-Schlo

Double Date: Ice skating at Riverbank State Park + hot chocolate at The Monkey Cup

The Winter Olympics in South Korea are only two weeks away, which means (after a four year hiatus) we'll all soon be debating which country's ice skating darling had the best triple Lutz–or was it a Salchow? In the meantime, why not get a jump start on all that skating talk with a visit to the open-air ice rink at Riverbank State Park? Located at the front of the large recreational facility high above the banks of the Hudson River, the rink has both day and evening hours on the weekends, with special "Open Freestyle & Dance" sessions in between. At the start of the season, parents can enroll their kids (future Olympians?) in a variety of ice-skating classes, including the Riverbank Figure Sk

Uptown Links: Chipotle is coming to 125th Street, a mini Arc de Triomphe hangs by a thread in Inwood

• Great little story in The New Yorker about a mini replica of the Arc de Triomphe that's the only surviving piece of a magnificent old estate in Inwood. You might cry if you Google what it looks like today, so I'm just posting an old photo from the New York Historical Society. • Also worth a look in The New Yorker: two beautiful online slideshows, one featuring portraits of Harlem at night by a documentary filmmaker, the other of black life in Senegal by a Harlem native. • What took so long? Chipotle is finally coming to Central Harlem. • At the Dance Theater of Harlem, young girls who come for the four-week Summer Intensive don't have to wear pink tights. The school's boutique sells them i

When New York's food writers venture uptown

The uptown food scene was electrified when Marcus Samuelsson first opened Red Rooster Harlem in late 2010. Then came critical darling The Cecil in 2013 (which has since turned into the less adventurous The Cecil Steakhouse). A new era of destination dining was coming to Harlem. Or was it? The truth is, uptown's restaurant landscape is a fascinating but relatively low-key mix of old-school family-run joints, ethnic cafes, and casually hip new establishments. It's hardly a hotbed for the latest culinary trends. Still, as someone who loves reading about the city's restaurants, I always perk up when I see a mention of a new or interesting place in Upper Manhattan. In fact, you can bet that many

How to make cheap flowers look good

I usually find the discounted flowers and plants that greet me outside my subway stop a little too past their prime. But it seems that when it's dreary enough outside, even I can't resist. Which explains why I recently found myself buying a bouquet of rosy-but-tired ranunculuses for $5 from the scrappy flower seller right next to the uptown 137th Street stop. Also, I had an idea. I had recently been to Le Coucou, the French hotspot in Soho where everything is charming, including the delicate, long-necked vases holding a single flower on each table. Remembering that I had a similar vessel at home, I thought, Why not do the same with my just-bought flowers? To get the look, I only needed one s

So close, yet so far away: David Letterman interviews Barack Obama at City College for his new show

I just finished watching the first installment of David Letterman's new talk show on Netflix, "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman." In it he interviews President Barack Obama, and boy did it hit home–literally. It turns out the sit-down took place on City College's main campus, a short walk from my apartment. The whole thing was taped onstage last November at City College Center for the Arts on Convent Avenue. The production team sure did a good job of keeping things hush-hush. The event was invitation-only, and not even the audience knew who the guest was. At the beginning of the show, while Obama is still in the wings, Letterman asks one audience member to guess who w

Standing with women this weekend

It's resistance time! The Women's March on New York City is tomorrow, January 20, and if you haven't registered, you can still do so here. Now in its second year, the event's start has moved to the Upper West Side and will begin with a rally at 11am. Whether you make it there or not, you can find plenty of other ways to show your support for women–and stand for equality–uptown. Here are a few places and events of note above 96th Street: FRIDAY, JANUARY 19 Pussy Hat Workshop at UGC Eats, 6-8pm Join "fiber artist" NaomiRAG and knitter, crocheter and yarn-maker Alexander Reynoso at UGC Eats in East Harlem for a special pussy hat-making workshop tonight. TUESDAY-SATURDAY, UNTIL FEBRUARY 25 LaTo

Uptown Links: a workshop to discuss Hamilton Theater's future expands, a rally to save old-schoo

• A workshop to plan the future of Hamilton Theater will take place this Saturday, January 20 from 10am-1pm–ideas include a community space for the arts, retail and housing. Due to the high number of people who have already signed up, the location has changed from the Harlem Boys & Girls Club to Aaron Davis Hall at City College. Register here. (Image via Cinematreasures.org) • A handshake agreement has saved beloved Washington Heights pub Coogan's for now. Next in line for help is neighboring restaurant Galicia, which can't afford its massive rent hike. A rally is planned for this Sunday January 21. • The GoFundMe campaign that's raising money for Harlem Boys & Girls Club kids to see "Black

A fun Harlem gallery tour to try while three of uptown's biggest museums renovate

You could say it's becoming a bit of a challenge to be a museum lover uptown. On Monday, The Studio Museum of Harlem joined El Museo del Barrio and The Hispanic Society of America in closing the doors to its galleries while it undergoes big changes. That leaves The Cloisters and The Museum of the City of New York as the last two major museums above 96th Street to remain fully open. But good things will come to those who wait. The Studio Museum will see the biggest transformation when its old space is replaced with a shiny new building designed by David Adjaye. El Museo's refurbished galleries will re-open later this year in its existing Fifth Avenue building. And The Hispanic Society's exten

African delights in Harlem

The more I hear the word "shithole" regarding places like Africa, Haiti, and El Salvador, the more I want to march out onto the streets and give every immigrant from these areas a big, welcoming hug. Since that would be physically impossible, I'll just say this: Harlem, this city, and this country would be so much poorer without the Senegalese community that has settled in and around 116th Street (it's often called Little Senegal) and shared with us their hearty peanut soups and thiebu djen, their national fish-and-rice dish. Every so often food writers from New York Magazine, The NY Daily News, and The New York Times come uptown and rave about the Senegalese fare they've eaten at places lik

Searching for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s statue in Harlem

As Martin Luther King, Jr Day was approaching last week, I was inspired to take a picture of our greatest civil rights hero's statue somewhere in Harlem. There was only one problem – I couldn't think of a single sculpture off the top of my head. How hard could it be? Statues of Christopher Columbus and Teddy Roosevelt have pride of place in other parts of the city. And a powerful figure of African-American politician Adam Clayton Powell Jr stands right in the heart of Harlem on 125th Street. Due to a public outcry and Mayor De Blasio's eventual decision to form a "symbols of hate" commission, I even knew where to find the statue of J. Marion Sims, the pioneering gynecologist who operated on

Where to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Harlem this weekend

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and Harlem is the perfect place to find events throughout the weekend that will honor the civil rights giant's words and spirit. Here's a shortlist: SATURDAY, JANUARY 13: ConSERVE NYC: MLK Day Service at St. Nicholas Park, 9am-noon If you'd like to participate in a day of service (and enjoy the outdoors), join the Student Conservation Association first thing this weekend as its volunteers work to restore St. Nicholas Park (St. Nicholas Avenue and 135th Street). This project involves mulching, improving trails and tackling invasive species, so wear appropriate clothing. Register here. "King in New York" opening day at the Museum of the City of New York, 1

Uptown Links: the Audubon Sculpture Project will land on Broadway next year, Washington Heights resi

• Uptown will have cool new art to crow about next year when the Audubon Sculpture Project comes to Broadway between 67th and 168th Streets. The installations will feature artist Nicolas Holiber's monumental bird sculptures representing climate-threatened species from our area. Tonight is the kickoff party at the American Academy of Arts & Letters. (Image via Gitler & _). • To the great dismay of many Washington Heights residents, Coogan's Restaurant announced it will be closing due to a rent hike. Now uptowners (including Lin-Manuel Miranda) are rallying to save it with this petition. • In this short New Yorker documentary, jazz drummer Phil Young tells two moving tales of how his music has

Uptown's newest theater group debuts its first production in Hamilton Heights next month

Turn down the lights and raise the curtain–uptown's got a brand new theater company! Inspired by downtown's indie theater scene that got its start in the '60s (La MaMa, etc), a group of uptown writers, actors and directors have joined together to form The National Theater of Uptown. Their hope is to create a similar movement in upper Manhattan, an area they say is "exploding with creative artists." The ensemble, led by founding artistic director Nathan Cann, plans to produce work that is "visceral, heightened, political, social and immediate for the audience." Productions will be site-specific, staged in unused uptown spaces like vacant storefronts, warehouses and rooftops. This month the co

A tale of scaffolding, uptown real estate & the city

The sun's out, the mercury's up, and, best of all, the scaffolding's finally come down in front of an elegant townhouse on West 145th Street I pass by every time I take the A train. I can now walk from St. Nicholas Avenue to Convent Avenue without a crude wood construction marring my view of this graceful block on the edge of the Hamilton Heights Historic District. Hooray! I know it's stupid to celebrate a daily fact of life in our city–scaffolding is constantly coming up and down–but I still always breathe a huge sigh of relief whenever one of these eyesores disappears. Maybe it's because you never know how long these supposedly temporary structures will stay up. Last year the New York Time

The Studio Museum in Harlem says goodbye to its old home this weekend

The Studio Museum in Harlem will soon have a dazzling new home dedicated to African-American artists and their work. But that also means an important chapter in the museum's–and the neighborhood's–history is closing. Be a part of it before it's too late! Next Monday, the Studio Museum will say goodbye to its old space in a grand pre-war building as it prepares for the groundbreaking on its new David Adjaye-designed home–in the very same spot–later this year. (Yes, the old building will go.) To mark the occasion, the museum will be hosting a four-day-long "Last Look" celebration that ends with special hours on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Events include gallery tours, poetry readings, conversa

Uptown Links: chef JJ Johnson's favorite Harlem brunch, a new psychological thriller set in brow

• File this under "Plans for next weekend": rising-star chef and Cecil alumnus JJ Johnson says his favorite Harlem brunch spot is Melba's. (photo: Matthew Guss) • Ooh–the plot of the latest must-read psychological thriller, "The Woman in the Window" by A.J. Finn, sounds juicy. It centers around Dr. Anna Fox, a pill-popping shut-in who spies on her new neighbors from her gentrified Harlem townhouse. • Better late than never! The New York Times finally reviewed the "Fictions" show at The Studio Museum, two weeks before the museum closes in preparation for its new home. (And it's official: New York Yimby reports that permits have been filed for the David Adjaye-designed building.) • Three local

The 41st annual Three Kings' Day parade in El Barrio has been cancelled due to bad weather

The 41st annual Three Kings' Day parade in East Harlem, set for this Friday, January 5, has been cancelled due to the approaching bad weather. In its place, El Museo del Barrio, which organizes the yearly event, will be hosting a free family day filled with live music and art-making ‪on Saturday, January 20th. The procession would have celebrated what's known in Spanish as El Día de los Reyes (a.k.a Epiphany or the 12th Day of Christmas). It typically winds its way up Lexington and Park Avenues in East Harlem and includes honorary kings, camels, festive floats, puppets, music and dancing. While none of us will get to see any desert-dwelling animals parade through East Harlem this year, you c

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